Considering Tijuana’s long and vibrant music history, it’s no surprise that the city spawned a band like Vaya Futuro. The quintet collides catchy choruses, psychedelic guitars, and eclectic rhythms, turning out some of the most deeply yearning songs to come out of the city in the past decade. In the span of four years, Vaya Futuro has covered more sonic ground than most bands in their entire careers, from the 90s guitar worship of 2014’s Ideas A Medias, to the sentimental, melodic dream pop tendencies of 2015’s Perro Verde y Triste, to the looser experiments of the songs included in their official bootleg V-Sides. Their most recent work features fully-formed and expansive songs like “Aunares” and remixes by the likes of Algodón Egipcio, Sotomayor and Trillones. On the road to dropping their third studio album, Vaya Futuro is settling into its new incarnation, new label, and an even more promising future.
When the band was formed in 2008 by Luis Aguilar (vocals/guitar), Aldair Cerezo (guitar), Julio Pillado (bass), and Miguel Ahuage (drums), they initially went by the name Celofán – but were forced to change it when another band claimed the moniker. In 2013, they released their debut Ideas A Medias. “When we released the album, we weren’t playing together anymore,” says Ahuage. “It was actually the final project of a friend studying audio engineering, and we released it as a memento of what the band was.” After the album’s release, they inevitably got back together to tour it.
While Tijuana has a reputation as a music haven, Vaya Futuro found their hometown cold to their sound. Miguel points out that the city was going through an electronic phase, and didn’t take well to guitar bands. They usually played shows to lean crowds of five to 30 patrons. “One time, it was us and Los Blenders. We charged an admission fee of 20 pesos, people would take a look and say, “Nah, I’d rather buy a beer,’ and leave.” After playing to much warmer crowds in Mexico City, the band – except for Pillado – decided to move to the country’s capital.
Before the big move, they recorded Perro Verde y Triste – accidentally, as Ahuage tells us. Current bassist L.E. Ros is also an engineer. “He would ring us and say, ‘Hey, I finished early. Get down here to do some demos for the next album.’ We would start around 10 p.m. and finish around 5 a.m. When we were halfway through, we thought it was sounding like a complete record. It was mostly first takes, that record has a ton of mistakes, but we felt they sounded right, even Luis’ vocals are first takes.”
“I’ve done much more in Mexico City in two years than I did in TJ in five.”
Although the sound they were making was flowing with ease, the band’s morale was going through one of its worst patches. “For Luis, Ros and me, the time we were making Perro Verde y Triste was like the worst time of our lives.” He continues. “We felt stuck. Everybody who goes [to Tijuana] to visit asks us why we ever left. I used to work at an outlet in San Diego folding clothing for five years. There was a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. When we moved to Mexico City, everybody’s attitudes changed. I’ve done much more here in two years than I did in TJ in five.”
Although the move represented a fresh start, it wasn’t easy for the members of the band. “Three of us used to live in a hotel room for nine months,” says keyboardist Armando Aguilar, who joined the band shortly after recording their second album. “We went a little crazy living in such close quarters. One day I buzzed my hair off; the guys saw me and asked me how I did it and they decided to do it as well – except Miguel who did everybody’s hair. Surviving that period of time and still being together has helped us.”
“It was never the idea to be a shoegaze band. We want to change with every record. It’s our challenge.”
This album also brought a musical shift for the band, one that made some of their early fans cry “sellout” when they heard Vaya Futuro dialing their fuzz boxes down. “It was never the idea to be a shoegaze band,” says Ahuage. “We’re all big fans of Blur and Damon Albarn and we love how every record he has made sounds completely different from what he has done before; that’s our idea, to change with every record. It’s our challenge.”
Things were looking up for Vaya Futuro before almost everything collapsed around them. Cerezo left the band and they parted ways with both their label and management. It was then that the band retreated to Austin to work on their as-yet-untitled album with Justin Douglas, who engineered a session in Iceland after they won the Converse Rubber Tracks contest two years ago. “it was a bittersweet sensation, we were excited about the album but we weren’t sure what would happen,” says Miguel.
The band has since signed with Chilean cult label Quemasucabeza after representatives saw them live. Then, to fill the vacant guitarist position, the band recruited Andrea Martinez. Ahuage explains, “I was following her [on social media] and I saw she was uploading covers of Kendrick Lamar, playing piano and guitar.” Armando continues, “Last month with the tour, 12 dates all over Mexico, it was a boot camp for her and us to settle into the band. Sleeping together, waking up in a good mood or bad mood, all that in a month.”
There have been many ups and downs but Vaya Futuro seems not to have lost a beat. The band keeps touring and gearing up to what could be a bigger opportunity to find a larger audience. While uncertainty seems to be a constant, their ability to transform that into inspiring music has made them into a formidable musical entity whose story is just beginning. Their new album is done, and with it a new sound for the quintet; this time exploring sunny psychedelic melodies inspired by turn of the millennium works from alt staples The Flaming Lips and Super Furry Animals. Bringing their poppier – if warped – tendencies to the forefront will surely add an interesting chapter to their discography, and could gain them a devoted fanbase without borders. Vaya Futuro is sure to keep turning heads and inhabiting music lovers’ hearts all over the world.